November 03, 2002

Perdido Street Station

I finally finished reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville after being loaned the book a while back by meriko and Russell.

The book received a glowing review from the Borogoves, and equally glowing reviews on Amazon, where it got something like an average of 4 1/2 stars out of five. But I thought the book ... well ... sucked.

Mostly I think it would have been a good 250-page book. Instead it is 720 pages. Way too much of the book is devoted to conjuring up scarier and more monstrous things, almost all of which exist solely so the scary, monstrous things can express how scared they are of the big, bad, awful uber-monster that the protagonists of the book are trying to kill. Really, after a while, I got the picture: these are some bad-ass moths. OK, got it. Let's move on. After a while, I just felt beaten by the message.

The book had some other interesting subplots, but those mostly petered out part way through the story, as the author put more and more of the focus on the aforementioned bad-ass moths.

The author gets points for creating an interesting, different world for his characters. But he should have had an editor attack the book with a chainsaw. That said, most people seem to disagree with my assessment. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by Mike at 08:30 PM | Comments (5)

November 05, 2002

Why do we pay for legislators?

In addition to the seven or eight positions in the Executive branch of California's government, state assemblyperson, US Representative, numerous judges, school board, and city council (please choose four this year), California today had seven statewide propositions to vote on. And one county proposition. Eight propositions, in my memory of California elections, is actually fairly low.

Recent years have had an incredible assortment of state initiatives to vote on, my favorite of which was the proposition to ban the human consumption of horsemeat. That was Proposition 6, passed just four years ago. Today, Californians voted on Proposition 52.

So — why is it, again, that we have Legislators? While I'm all in favor of more involvement in the democratic process by the citizenship, I'm not sure that democracy is helped by making individuals vote on a proposition to repeal another proposition on cigarette taxes.

The real problem is that so many ballot initiatives are titled and worded to be deliberately confusing. "English For The Children", which more honestly could have been called "Stick it to the immigrants", is just one example. Today's ballot measures included propositions that would mandate funding for various programs, complete with the assurance that it won't cost anything. Except that, of course, it will cost something. Either California will have to raise taxes to pay for it, or will have to take money away from other programs to pay for it. But somehow, they promise that we'll be able to get something for nothing.

Why are we voting on these? Part of the point of a representative form of government is that we should expect our legislators to research issues like this and understand them so that they can make informed decisions. It is their job. My job is to work on software for Microsoft. My job as a citizen is to vote for representatives in government who I believe will do a good job. Instead my job as citizen seems to be to vote on representatives in government who will do ... something. And decide whether or not human consumption of horse meat is a big problem.

Posted by Mike at 10:44 PM | Comments (5)

November 08, 2002


The Bay Area finally got its first rain of the season this week -- and did it ever start with a bang.

Big branches have fallen off trees all over the area. The roads are covered in pine cones and needles that have been blown off trees. Meredith's class last night was cut short after they lost power. A traffic light on Shoreline Blvd. went out before I went home last night, and was still out when I came into work this morning. The wind over the runways at San Francisco Airport hit over 60 MPH, causing many pilots to decide to land in San Jose or Oakland instead.

On top of that, California drivers suck in the rain. Meredith said she drove home from San Mateo last night at around 40 - 50 MPH through the driving rain, while all around her, drivers hydroplaned around her doing the normal 70 MPH or so. CNN reports that 290 car crashes were reported yesterday, up from just 126 the day before.

What a way to kick off the rainy season. Wow.

Posted by Mike at 11:17 AM

November 09, 2002

Still lame, after all these years

I've now watched the first 15 minutes of tonight's episode of Saturday Night Live. And, wow, it is as fantastically lame as it's ever been.

I remember when this show was funny.

But it's been a while.


Posted by Mike at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

November 11, 2002

You can't always get what you want

Tonight marks ten years to the day since Mom suddenly, unexpectedly died.

I wonder what would be different if that night hadn't happened. What would be the same?

It seems so hard to believe that it's already been ten years since that terrible night. And it seems so very, very long ago.

It's now been almost 1/3 of my life since Mom died. It's been over half of my youngest brother's life.

My Aunt Jane (Mom's sister) emailed me to say that she was going to light a candle and go sit outside tonight. I think I'll go do the same.

Posted by Mike at 10:49 PM

November 17, 2002

Harry Potter 2

The movie (Harry Potter 2 and the Chamber of Secrets) was pretty good. Oddly, I couldn't remember any of the details of the book until the movie had started. I guess it's been too long since I read the books.

The worst part: had to, had to, HAD to be the flying car. Did they spend more than a couple of hours on the effects for that? The flying car in the tree made claymation look good. Wow.

Posted by Mike at 06:14 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2002

When to consider firebombing an iBook

I found this tale of someone's problems with an iBook. I guess I should be grateful that for all the problems Meredith has had with her iBook, at least she's never had this happen.


Posted by Mike at 12:52 AM | Comments (3)

November 19, 2002

Hindsight is cool

Hmm ... I guess I should have taken that flu shot that Microsoft was offering at work last week, after all.


The worst part is that I can't blame Meredith this time. She isn't sick.

OK, maybe that's not the worst part.

Posted by Mike at 09:02 PM

November 22, 2002

weekend update

First, some random links from the week...

There have been several news reports of a new campaign that asks the question:
'What would Jesus drive?' The campaign, which even has a web site, is trying to push for higher gas mileage.

Presumably Jesus would NOT drive this bus, which managed to run over a passenger who was getting off just a mile or so from our house. Making it worse, the bus kept going, even after other passengers yelled at the driver that he had just run over someone. Reports are that the driver wasn't drunk, which seems to suggest that he must just be an idiot. It's people like this that caused my Uncle Mark to argue that we shouldn't have laws against Driving While Intoxicated, but, rather Driving While being an Idiot. His argument was that being drunk was certainly something that would cause you to drive like an idiot, but it wasn't the only reason, and the effects, at the end of the day, weren't that different.

CNN has a story on someone who burned his penis by using a laptop. The part I would have liked to see in the article is the manufacturer and model of the laptop he was using. Ouch.

Does anyone else's cat play fetch? Our does. We'll throw one of his toys down the length of the house, and he'll go tearing after it, pick it up with his mouth, and bring it back. Over and over again. Maybe Meredith got a puppy after all. The site of him charging after something on the hard wood floors is pretty hysterical. He can't really stop on a time like he (still) thinks he should be able to, so he'll run at the thing full tilt, then slide for another foot while rotating around to keep the toy in view. Still ... cat's aren't supposed to play fetch, are they? Although some people seem to get really excited about the idea.

Meredith started getting sick Thursday night, marking one of the only times in our marriage that I have gotten her sick and not the other way around. The perils of being married to a school teacher. However, she's already feeling about as well as I am now, so clearly she recovered a lot faster. I wasn't feeling well enough to make it into work since I left Tuesday afternoon.

I started playing MechAssault on X-Box. Meredith's first comment: "Wow, this looks really silly." Mine: "Wow, I can step on infantry! This rules!" They say that opposites attract...

Oh, and my answer to the original question?

A donkey.

Posted by Mike at 04:01 PM | Comments (7)

November 30, 2002

London Calling...

It is done.

Meredith and I going out of town for Christmas. Specifically, we'll be going to London for a week. We fly out Christmas Eve (oh well) on a British Air 747, arriving Christmas Day, then spending seven nights at the Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel before flying back on New Years Day. This will definitely mark the first time I've spent Christmas Eve at 36,000 feet. But the flights were a lot cheaper this way. On the plus side, we do get to spend New Years Eve in London. Sure beats Mountain View. Presumably we can find something to do that night.

Left to do: figure out how to get from Heathrow to our hotel on Christmas Day, or, for that matter, back on New Years. We're not quite sure that the Underground runs on Christmas Day.

Posted by Mike at 09:18 PM | Comments (2)